Raja calls meeting with industry to discuss telecom scenario

Raja calls meeting with industry to discuss telecom scenario

New Delhi: Communications Minister A Raja has convened a meeting of all telecom operators on 3 October to discuss the broad industry scenario and a host of policy issues in the wake of scrambling by old and new players to get licences, besides TRAI’s proposals on licensing reforms.

Two representatives from each operator are allowed to attend the meeting which does not have any fixed agenda except to discuss the telecom scenario, sources said, but added the issue of fresh licences could come up for discussion.

The meeting comes barely a day after the Department of Telecom’s deadline for submitting licence applications expired on October 1. The DoT has received close to 500 applications for telecom licences, including from US-based AT&T, realty firms DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath, Omaxe, consumer durables major Videocon and metals giant Sterlite among others.

Official sources said the meeting could also discuss the spectrum allocation to existing players, operators’ stand on regulator TRAI’s licensing recommendations and the situation arising out of the sudden surge of telecom licence seekers.

Sources said DoT is also mulling imposing higher charges for spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz to existing operators and may initiate a dialogue with operators at Wednesday’s meeting.

On the other hand, operators may suggest tough eligibility criteria to keep non-serious players out of the telecom sector, the sources said. This is important especially in view of the shortage of spectrum, which has impacted expansion plans of existing players.

However, the new hopefuls have said there was a scope for further competition in the sector and this would benefit subscribers in terms of choice of operators and tariffs.

Sources also said DoT may come out with strict clauses including lock-in period for any company to exit from the business in order to keep non-serious player out of race.

DoT is also mulling revising eligibility criteria like increasing the net worth of company and may demand full licence fee within a week of issuing the letter of intent and that too without guarantee of giving spectrum.

The meeting also assumed importance as operators’ stand on various issues has been different. Moreover, a decision is pending on TRAI’s recommendations on the licensing reforms.